From My Friend K To OSTA Community~ She is not alone in her families silence.

Stigma: the aftermath of sobriety. How do we break the stigma?  

“Alcoholics are equated in social contexts to people who are unlovable, unemployed and criminals. In short, addictions are treated like moral and criminal issues.”-Helen Farrell My husband has been sober for almost 8 years. Not many know the rollercoaster that was our life for many years as he continued to abuse alcohol. While some people wear their sobriety like a badge of honor, my husband is very quiet about his.  He will politely turn down a drink in a social setting, often bringing a large coffee with him to sip on instead. I actually had someone smile at me during an event we were at and say: “One of these days I’m going to get him to have a drink with me, I bet he’d be a lot of fun!”  I remember my head spinning thinking back on just how “fun” he was during our dark days – I smiled back at this man and said “Nah.  He wouldn’t be much fun.” I’ve asked him why he doesn’t brag about his accomplishments on social media – about how he’s turned his life around. His response has been because of the stigma that comes with being an addict, sober or not.  He’s pointed out to me that if he were to share in a professional environment that he was a recovering alcoholic, it could change how others view him (even when he was teetering on the edge of rock bottom he was continuing to be very successful in his career), and maybe even prevent a promotion.  His biggest reason for not going to rehab was because he didn’t want his boss to know. He didn’t want to have the reputation of an addict.  These days my husband takes great joy in coaching our sons in youth sports.   We’ve started to make some wonderful friends… most don’t know that he is an alcoholic. There are a few that he’s opened up to – either because they have shared their own stories of sobriety (a few of them wear those social media sobriety badges of honor), or because he has felt comfortable enough knowing their opinion of him will not be skewed.  His fear is that parents could potentially hold his past against him if he shares the reason why he’s not drinking with them at a tournament. Not being able to coach kids due to his past would be devastating. Not only for him, but for the kids that would miss out on having an amazing coach.  He has a love for kids and sports that is undeniable – the sports seasons end with numerous kids and parents begging him to coach the next season.  He’s positive, but expects hard work.  Hard work is something he has proven to be successful at.  I will continue to silently cheer him on… but I can’t help but wonder, how many others are out there staying silent out of possible societal repercussions? 

Screaming Profanities

I’m pretty certain the universe was shaking it’s hands at the sky in frustration with me because I just kept repeating the same mistakes/ lessons. I hadn’t realized how quiet and sneaky my ego could be.I was laying face up in the dark of night on a sheet of ice in my driveway, wrapped in blinding pain and screaming profanities at the top of my lungs. I was so pissed at myself. It was my first winter as a solo working Mom and homeowner. My stupid pride had stopped me from asking my lovely neighbors on either side of me for help with the plowing, both had offered. I know I was a ding dong. Laying there on the ice luge I created out of a lack of attention to snow removal, hating the garbage bins for sending me out into the freezing cold, the “what is wrong with me” recording started playing in my head. This time I knew, my ego and pride were on the chopping block. Then the “please don’t let me be hurt” followed. As a solo parent being hurt wasn’t an option.
“Ego you are so fired!”. Finally the realization, difficult moments like these could be avoided if I just gave up listening to my ego. Stupid ego telling me that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I flipped onto my belly, commando crawled to the nearest snow bank and made it to my feet. Relieved I was only bruised, stating out loud “must buy ice melt, must ask for help”. I felt a sense of relief, the message had finally sunk in. I hear ya universe I hear ya. I am going to get out of my own way.
The next day after work I headed to the grocery, a busy Saturday afternoon yielded long lines at the check out. There was a young woman at the front of my line who’d run into a snag. The cashier had never processed a WIC check before.For those of you who don’t know, WIC is an assistance program for Moms who need help buying food for their children. I know this because I was on the program till Hadley was almost two.Watching the young women struggle to pay reminded me of the embarrassment I felt using WIC checks. I remembered the stares and the remarks from the folks behind me in line. I hated it. The big mouth old lady, behind the young woman who was directly in front of me, was letting us all know how upset she was about the form of payment. She repeated several times “don’t you have another way to pay”. I could feel my blood boil. The old woman would not let up. “F off lady” sprung from my lips. Could not put that one back in. “No one wants to hear your mouth”. She spun around with a look of disgust. The gates where open and there was no stopping me from putting this old lady in her place.“You want the line to move faster than dig deep for some kindness and pay for the ladies groceries yourself”. Her mouth fell wide open, her face bright red with rage. Her hands clinched in tiny fists.“Did your parents raise you to be this awful?” She growled waving her finger at me. There it was… there was my stupid ego taking over and getting in the way. Of course my parents didn’t raise me to swear at folks in the grocery check out line. They did however raise me to be understanding and patient. In this case my past feelings of hurt and embarrassment took over and didn’t allow me to convey my message in a productive, kind, civil way. My ego lead me straight into shitsville. Damn it! Hadn’t I learned anything from my fall on the ice? I acted like an ass about the driveway snow removal help and about the old ladies awful reaction to the WIC check, for different reasons but both out of pride.
Loading my groceries into the car, chuckling to myself about the spill I had taken on the ice. I mentally shook the hand of my ego and told it to head to the back of the bus, ego you don’t get to drive anymore. When we meet again ego I’ll be ready to greet you and tell you to take a seat.

Living In An Addicts Worlds

I’ve done the work, I continue todo the work, I have a great therapist. This post is about my moment of clarity. If you are reading this and connecting with me, I am with you. If you are wondering why I’m sharing this, you and I are in different places, and that’s ok. There are moments that I have as a loved one of an addict that linger and haunt me. There are so many I’ve lost track. The particular one that stands out for me, the one where the downward spiral ended, was when I realized I was working harder for his sobriety than he was.My ability (sometimes called my super power) to read a situation and problem solve was not an attribute rather an achilles heal when it came to my addict. To say out loud, to acknowledge to anyone that I could not veer him from his path of destruction was devastating for me. A switch was flipped the day I found the words to describe my part in our crazy life. I no longer felt responsible for him, his actions, his excuses. A weight was lifted and in it’s place a big black hole of accountability lay in front of me. (Insert audible sigh) “I’m going to be in charge of myself and my kiddo, that’s it.” This became my mantra. If all that wasn’t  hard enough to swallow I had an “ah ha” moment that kicked me where it hurts. I’m part of the problem not the solution.Sweet Mary and Joseph!!! “I’m part of the problem”. At this point I wasn’t sure which way was up. It was as if I  kicked over a full filing cabinet and had to put all the flies back in a new, better functioning order.If you have your very own addict you know my struggle. If you are knew to the world of addiction buckle your seat belt. Addiction slowly sneaks into our lives. It quietly twist things around. It invokes fear and sadness, delivering confusion and angry. Then when it feels like you can’t take any more the family you love dearly implodes and the real tragedy begins. The break down of love and compassion. All the life we’ve lived, the life that made us us, criticized and ridiculed. We tourtured each other emotionally, placed blame. We pulled apart and strangled all that was sacred to us. The things we said, the nasty way we spoke to each other… It was horrific. I  wouldn’t change a thing. All that has happened has brought me to a place of understanding that I never would have gotten to if it wasn’t for the long drawn out process of getting myself to this place of self awareness. I needed to see first hand what it meant to hit rock bottom his, mine, ours (Yes, there is more than one rock bottom). Even with the switch flipped and my eyes wide open to the fact that I was part of our problem I  still was determined to save him.It was difficult and painful to choose to detach from my addict I  loved him. I wanted to keep him safe and alive. I wanted to hold onto the hope that he’d return to the sober man that I fell in love with. In one last very expensive ditch effort I put him on a plane to attend a rehab in Florida. I know, I  know, rookie mistake. The regret I have for making this choice has left a scar on my heart.My husband came home from that rehab five months later. He came home a different kind of broken than when he left. He’s was angry and lost and willing to give it all up as long as he didn’t have to work at sobriety. Didn’t have to face the self hate he carried. Do any work to better our family situation. What happened next… I never saw coming and I really thought I’d seen it all.To be continued…

I Hate That The Numbers Matter

I’m 44 (close to 50). 5’2″(with my shoes on). I wear a size 10 pant (31 in a fancy brand). My shoes are a 6.5 (small feet make for poor balance, but a great selection at the store). I’m 148 lbs (on any given day could be 154 lbs, I get super bloated). I know it shouldn’t, but some of  these numbers bother the hell out of me.
The 44 thing really doesn’t, it’s only when doctors start talking about the new an exciting things that have to be done because I’m aging, then I’m bothered. Aging is for the birds.
5’2″ well, that’s a tough one. Somedays short is where it’s at, other days I’m spending $50.00 to hem my new pants. I’d rather be spending $50.00 on more pants, maybe a top.
Size 10, can get dicey. Media in our modern world is telling me I should be a size 4. My very wide shoulders and hips are saying nothing smaller than an 8 for me. The ever present idea that women should be skinny can drive me nuts at times. I’ve learned to ignore the numbers in my clothing, and the media.
My only sadness I have around my 6.5size feet is if they were more like 7.5 would I be less clumsy?  Just a thought not a complaint.
148 lbs is where I loose it, I know if I feel good in my clothes the number shouldn’t matter, I hate that the number matters! For years I obsessively weighed myself each morning. The out come of my day sometimes depended on that number. I had to brake up with my scale, it’s been freeing. But I’m back on the crazy train.
I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have lived in the Marlin Monroe era where curvy and soft were sexy and sought after.
I was out with a friend recently, so excited to see her, when it came time to order she order veggies, she is a vegan, and I ordered a fish dish, ordered wine. No apps, we passed on the bread, the waiters response was “Watching what we eat ladies” he had the biggest grin on his face, as if he’d just won a round at trivia night. What an ass! Two size 10 women ordering delicious fish and veggies gets perceived as two big ladies who need to drop a few pounds. I had to dig deep not to tell him to shove it. “NO” was my brilliant response. It’s a hard truth to swallow that 5’2″, size 10 women are considered to be large. I believe if we had ordered apps, bread and big meals he probably would  have  thought to himself “those big ladies need to ease up on the intake”. It shouldn’t be this way. It’s not always possible to avoid hearing peoples perceptions or opinions, but I would love it if those perceptions and opinions had a broader acceptance on women’s body types.
It makes me sad to think my struggles may one day be my daughters (efforts and fingers crossed it won’t be). I wish the ideal women was portrayed larger and curvier than a 12 year old boy. Slender and svelte, I am on your side. Tall, tight and toned, I get it, that is beautiful. But could short and wide join the ranks of ideal beauty, PLEASE.
P.S. The art of giving compliments should be that waiters next college course.

I Ran Till My Legs Hurt More Than My Heart

Today the memory of a painful moment in my life came rushing in. I have to admit I was a bit taken back by its timing…I’ll never forget, I was carrying the clean laundry, I had just set foot on the first step to head up stairs. He was yelling, we were always yelling at each other, I stepped back and put the laundry basket on the floor, sat on the first step and laid my head in my hands. I had been so unhappy for so long there wasn’t any fight left, I stared at the hard wood floors wondering how we got to this point, wondering when I lost myself, hopping he’d stop yelling. I chuckled to myself, as if I had just seen a funny Saturday night live skit, then the weight of realty hit my chest, my heart was pounding, I got flush, couldn’t breath. I looked up to see my running sneakers next to the front door, I put them on, I dragged my panicked self out the front door and I started running. One block, two blocks, three blocks with every pounding step the realization of my situation and the action I needed to take became clearer. Ten blocks, eleven blocks, I don’t want to live like this. Nineteen and twenty blocks, I’m not a yeller, how did I get like this!!!! What’s wrong with me? Can I be saved? Wait, I don’t want to be saved… Get me off this crazy train!I ran till my legs hurt more than my heart, than I ran till my toes went numb. I fell to the ground, gasping for air, tear filled eyes and told myself “Get up, the owner of the yard I’m laying in will call the cops. Get up, don’t let this take you down. Get up, you need to discover what happy feels like”.As I rounded the corner back to the house (my lungs burning, my legs hurting) I could see him waiting for me on the front porch, befuddled and confused he shouted out “You alright?” I didn’t respond right away. He repeated him self. Now, just a few feet away from him, I swallowed hard and blurted out “I want a divorce, I can’t live like this!”.My ex-husband and I did’t separate because we didn’t love each other, we separated because the reasons we got together were no longer there. If you love something set it free. I didn’t like who we’d become, who I had become. I no longer felt the joy when I looked at him. Smiles were replaced with scowls, laughter with yelling. No one should live like that. I had stood in the silence of our dark secret for far too long. It was time to start dealing with the real issue at hand. His addictions.I’ll never forget that day, the day I took up running.